DoubleLine Total Return Bond. Manager Jeff Gundlach may become the Bill Gross of his generation. (He's 55.) After having a terrific decade at TCW Total Return bond fund, he started DoubleLine in 2010. DoubleLine Total Return has good, if not quite stellar, returns over nearly five years, though it has attracted more than $2.47 billion this year. Its yield is just below 5%. Turnover is only 14%

Fidelity Strategic Income. Joanna Bewick is the most low-profile manager in a group of heavyweights, but she has posted very good returns since taking over in 2008. Fidelity Strategic Income is small, giving her more leeway, and is invested heavily in U.S. and foreign government bonds. Turnover is a relatively high 135%. This is a good choice for people who have Fidelity accounts, though I might not go out of my way to buy it.

Loomis Sayles Bond. Another investing legend, Dan Fuss, co-manages this fund with Elaine Stokes and Matt Eagan. Fuss is 80, 10 years older than Gross, so I wouldn't invest just because of him. But I've interviewed Eagan and found him very bright, and the fund's performance is excellent. Turnover, at 28%, is also low.

Pimco Income. Co-managed by new CIO Ivascyn and Alfred Murata, who both won Morningstar's Fixed-Income Manager of the Year in 2013, Pimco Income's performance has smoked many other unconstrained bond funds over the last five years. Ivascyn probably won't be as hands on as he used to be, so Murata will likely do more heavy lifting.

One reservation: The fund's turnover rate was a blistering 251% - way too high! I'd wait a bit to see if the managers reduce that over the coming months. But if you're in Pimco Total Return and want an alternative, look no further than this stellar next-door neighbor rather than following the once-great Bill Gross down his long, lonesome road.

Howard R. Gold is a MarketWatch columnist and founder and editor of GoldenEgg Investing, which offers simple, low-cost, low-risk retirement investing plans. Follow him on Twitter @howardrgold.

robert laden

Probably shouldn't blame Gross too much. It's tough to make money in the bond market when credit-worthy bonds are yielding zero after taxes and inflation.

"Unconstrained" bond funds sounds like it could be the new face of "mortgage backed securities", except that the "mortgage" part has probably been replaced by "sub-prime car loans".

Don Bowmore

@robert laden

and "student loan backed securities" ?